Four Sauvingon Blanc Wineries and One Lunch, Marlborough, New Zealand.

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Our first day of exploring this particular wine region would have us visiting four world class wineries. Our self guided tour today would have us calling on Spy Valley, Wairau River, Dog Point and ending the day at Villa Maria. Each of these wineries would offer something new on the palette; something interesting to explore. We’d get the opportunity to take in these places in a completely empty environment with a total lack of other visitors throughout our day.


This post is one chapter on our trip to Fiji, New Zealand and French Polynesia. This trip was redeemed through Alaska Mileage Plan and AAdvantage frequent flier programs and enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Activity: Four Wineries and One Lunch, Marlborough, New Zealand.


This was the start of our visit to Marlborough Wine Country! We hopped into the car from the Marlborough Vintners Hotel and headed down to Spy Valley for the first tasting of the day. Spy Valley was themed based on a communications station that was located only 5 miles from the winery cellar door.

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Visiting the Cellar Door at Spy Valley:

It was a pretty slick and contemporary spot at Spy Valley. It was completely appropriate for it’s name reflecting a modern look for this winery.

The tasting room was outfitted with James Bond posters from the movie Moon Raker and The Spy Who Loved Me. I didn’t realize this until it was explained to me, but the bottles have morse code across them with a hidden message.

I really enjoyed the Spy Valley Pinot Gris and MrsWT73 picked up a bottle of the Spy Valley Rose for our time later on for our travels in French Polynesia.

It was a super pleasant tasting made even better by the fact we were the only ones there for the entire visit. It was a theme we’d continue to experience throughout our entire Marlborough visit.

After Spy Valley, we then headed up the road over to Wairau Hills for a tasting and for lunch.

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Visiting the Cellar Door & Lunch at Wairau River:

Wairau River was highly rated to be among the best for lunch in the valley so we were keen to give it a try. Needless to say, it was super awesome!

With our winter visit, the tasting room had a wood burning fireplace going, which led for a nice crackling smell to the place. The fire was one of the most unique smells to accompany a tasting room that I have ever had the opportunity to be in. There was a solid line up of wines, of which we had a tasting.

We stopped here to the attached Wairau River restaurant for lunch. It was an excellent experience and I’d highly recommend this place. Although the décor was a bit plain, the food was out of this world.

We had a blue cheese soufflé with garden salad, which was excellent. I savoured every last bite; it was that good. It was easily one of the best meals that we had on this trip.

All in all, Wairau Hills was a most excellent stop and definitely worthy for lunch if you are passing through the area.

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Visiting the Sheep and Cellar Door at Dog Point:

After lunch, we headed up to Dog Point vineyards; which was by prior appointment. One of the partners took us on a brief winery tour in their Mercedes up to the top of Dog Point where we could see the Sauvignon Blanc blocks and the Pinot blocks. Dog Point only makes 4 varietals, the Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc Block 94, Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir.

After the property tour, we met Murray the winemaker. He was Australian and an ex-ski bum like me, having worked in Frisco, Colorado and skiing at Copper Mountain growing up. The tasting was similar to a trade tasting in the farmer’s working office, leading for a very authentic and rich experience.

There were also about 2,000 sheep hanging out at the ranch waiting for a mowing opportunity. It was a really nice and pleasant visit that was smoothly paced and intimate in the visit experience.

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Last Call: The Cellar Door at Villa Maria

We then went to Villa Maria and enjoyed the last tasting of the day. The Villa Marina wines are the only winery in the world that is led by a knight and has a global distribution network. Their top label wines were surreally good. Sadly, we typically get the lower end labels back at home. We finished a tasting in their no nonsense tasting room.

As a major worldwide heavy weight, the Villa Maria cellar door was quite small and less exciting by comparison. Having said that, they had some excellent wines available, if not a little plain for my palette.

Dinner at Scotch Wine Bar Restaurant:

We returned to the hotel for a jet lagged nap, and then over to Scotch for dinner. We picked this out of the trip advisor guide. It had 40 wines by the glass and a cellar of over 2000 bottles.

It was not too bad food although it was a little heavy for my tastes. We had an off menu competition burger with a glass of the Dog Point Pinot Noir. We also had a side of tasty chips… Shameless!

We returned to the hotel for a little television then a deep sleep after a full day of sightseeing. It was a great first day in New Zealand, doing something that we both enjoy doing.

My Thoughts on Spy Valley, Wairau River, Dog Point and Villa Maria

We had a spectacular start to wine touring in Marlborough. We got in visits to four world class wineries, with something a little different at each one. We had an excellent lunch at Wairau River and I would highly recommend that restaurant if you’re travelling through this area. We were treated like royalty at Dog Point and it ranked among my favourite cellar door visits worldwide.


If you visited Marlborough for New Zealand Wine Tourism, which cellar door was your favourite ?

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